The season finale of Chuck reminded us why we loved this show in the first place: villainous cackles, fisticuffs, and a nougatty emotional center.
Let's get this out of the way right up top: I'm not gonna rehash the events of "Chuck Versus the Subway" and "Chuck Versus the Ring, Part 2." You wouldn't be reading this if you didn't already watch it — you know what happened. Instead, I wanna talk about expectations and how our expectations for a show can ruin our experience watching it.
I've been a little harsh on a few episodes here and there. I've complained about the presence of the Idiot Ball, Chuck not learning from his mistakes, and the perfunctory feel of some of the action subplots. Many of those I will stand by — lazy televisioning is still lazy televisioning. I wanted more from this show that I love; I always do. And when I didn't get it, I flicked at Chuck, like an beloved but errant pet. In doing so, I overlooked one, fundamental thing:
Television is a long con.
It's easy to forget that, watching week after week, trying to put together a puzzle without the benefit of even the picture on the box. Sometimes the pieces don't fit. Sometimes they feel superfluous, as if they're not even part of the puzzle itself. But what we do, as a faithful audience, is place our trust in the writers and producers to give us what we need so that by the time the long con has run its course, everything falls into place: beats become episodes, episodes become seasons, seasons become a series.
And this two-part, two-hour finale just...clicked. The hours we endured with Shaw, Morgan's bumbling, the Awesomes trip to Africa, Chuck's ill-advised lies, Jeffster and the BuyMore escapades — well, that last bit was still a waste of time — everything slotted into place like a well-machined watch. Things were lost (most notably Scott Bakula's Papa Bartowski) and things were found (Mama Bartowski?) — tears were shed, laughs were had (Shaw explaining his evil plan, closing with a sotto "Mwa-ha-ha," was genius).
I'm excited about where the show could go: Chuck still being a spy, still keeping secrets from everyone, still feeling his way through his life, but now without his support system. The late Papa Bartowski can be Chuck's Alfred — or the crystal-happy Jor-El — via computer screen, guiding him through the Citizen Kane-like remnants of his secret existence. And Sarah will have to live with being on the outside...for once.
It's gonna be a long wait until next season.